Chris Corner’s interest in music was stoked by a “weird uncle” who would play “strange music” to him. As a teenager in Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, England, Corner was a progenitor in trip-hop, starting with F.R.I.S.K. and Line of Flight. In 1994, he further architected the genre when he co-founded Sneaker Pimps in Hartlepool, England; the band remained active until 2005. Corner adopted his IAMX moniker and began matching solo music and visual art in 2004 in London. The name ‘I am X’ refers to Becoming X, the title of the Sneaker Pimps’ debut album. Corner explained that by founding IAMX, he no longer felt that he was becoming X, but rather that he was X. The meaning of the X — according to the founder — is ever changing,g like a variable in a mathematical equation. In 2006, he moved his base of operations to Berlin, and in 2014, Corner relocated to Los Angeles. His eighth album as IAMX, Alive in New Light, was released on Feb. 2, 2018.
IAMX headlined three nights at Rough Trade in April, merging pop crooning with layers of electronic experimentation, periodically approaching goth and industrial music. The visuals were overwhelming; unconventional video loops — many made by Corner — projected behind the band (vocalist/keyboardist Corner, keyboardist Sammi Doll, bassist/keyboardist Janine Gezang, drummer Jon Siren), and constantly roving and flashing lights often blinded the audience, particularly the hardiest fans in front of the stage. The lack of lighting on the musicians intentionally obscured the players, who were bathed in dim blue ambience such that only their silhouettes were visible for the entire show. IAMX’s music was engagingly avant garde, particularly when the pulsing synthesizers played into dance beats, but the inability to ever see the artist and the relentless flashing lights were an annoyance. (The accompanying photograph was taken with a flash and modified digitally; no one in the audience ever saw Corner this clearly.)